Government deal gives millions to Wiltshire and Gloucestershire

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: David Willetts MP, Minister for Universities and Science visits the University of Gloucestershire to announce the GFirst LEP Growth Deal - Picture by Antony Thompson - Thousand Word Media David Willetts MP, Minister for Universities and Science visits the University of Gloucestershire to announce the GFirst LEP Growth Deal - Picture by Antony Thompson - Thousand Word Media

TWO LANDMARK deals providing millions of pounds to improve Wiltshire and Gloucestershire have been agreed between central government and local enterprise partnerships.

An impressive £62.5million of government funding to improve Gloucestershire has been secured by the county’s LEP.

GFirst LEP has a total of £23.6million confirmed for the first year and an award of £38.9million available from 2016/17.

Gloucestershire’s Growth Deal will help to create 5000 jobs and generate up to £40million in public and private investment by 2021, ultimately aiming to create 34,000 jobs in the region.

Wiltshire’s Growth Deal of £129.3million, secured by The Swindon and Wiltshire LEP, hopes to create, or safeguard, at least 1,500 jobs and allow 2,000 homes to be built.

A key element of the Wiltshire plan is the improvement of traffic flow to allow the expansion of Dyson’s Malmesbury site, supporting over 3,000 engineering and research jobs.

Speaking about planned growth deals Prime Minister David Cameron said “Growth Deals are a crucial part of our long-term plan to secure Britain’s future.

“For too long our economy has been too London-focused and too centralised. Growth Deals will help change all that. They are about firing up our great cities, towns and counties so they can become powerhouses.”

Both plans involve the improvement of transport links and a focus on science, technology and engineering.

Gloucestershire’s plan includes the redevelopment of a disused brownfield site at Berkeley into a STEM training centre focusing on renewable energy, engineering and the nuclear sector.

Government will provide £5million of capital funding for the GREEN (Gloucestershire Renewable Energy, Engineering and Nuclear) skills project, matching private and public funding to redevelop the disused brownfield site, with £36.9million to be supplied by GFirst LEP.

The deal also includes funding for a ‘growth hub’ of expertise in partnership with The University of Gloucestershire and money towards a broader goal of ensuring the availability of employment land around the M5 corridor.

Focussing on training and careers information is a deliberate theme as local enterprise partnerships are well equipped to address the needs and opportunities in their own regions.

Finally, the Gloucestershire Growth Deal also ensures that the Highways Agency is committed to working with Gloucestershire County Council to secure funding to address the A417 Missing Link.

Councillor Mark Hawthorne, Leader of Gloucestershire County Council and a Board Member of GFirst LEP said “This is fantastic news for Gloucestershire and a great testament of joint working between the public and private sector.

“Now the hard work begins to deliver the plan and continue to pursue the additional investment needed for such projects as the A417 loop.”

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